Bichon Frise vs Poodle (Breeds Compared WITH PHOTOS!)

There’s a lot of excitement and research that goes into choosing a dog. You likely have a laundry list of preferences, ranging from their size to wanting to know if they’ll bark at your neighbors.

So, since the Bichon Frise and Poodle are on your radar, you’re in luck—both of these dogs are loving breeds, and they have several similar and unique qualities.

I have extensive experience with these dogs, so I’ll share my top Bichon Frise vs Poodle comparisons so that you can determine which is the right breed for you.

bichon frise vs poodle
Bichon Frise vs Poodle – which is better for your family?

Background on the Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise became an official breed with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1972. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know exactly where these dogs originated from, although some believe it could be the Canary Islands.

Regardless, this much is true: The Bichon Frise has been a beloved lap dog around the Mediterranean for millennia. There’s even a legend that Cleopatra loved this breed.

During the French Revolution, Bichon Frises no longer served their owners as lap dogs. Many of these dogs found themselves on the street, where opportunists saw the Bichon’s potential as show biz dogs, training them to do tricks. 

Nowadays, people own Bichon Frises both for showing and loving companion dogs. They’re excellent with children, other pets, and strangers.

happy bichon frise puppy
An extremely happy and tiny Bichon Frise puppy

Background on the Poodle

Here’s a trick question: Where is the Poodle from?

You’re mistaken if your answer is France; Poodles originated in Germany.

The Germans bred Poodles to be excellent swimmers so that they could retrieve the birds they’d shoot over water. Poodles earned their keep, and news soon spread to France, where the French also used them as water retrievers.

It’s easy to assume that the Poodle’s traditional haircut is a fashion statement. But instead, hunters groomed Poodles as such so that hair around their joints and upper torso would protect them. They then closely shaved the remainder of the Poodle’s body so they could more easily swim through the water.

In today’s society, people primarily have Poodles as family pets. These dogs are highly intelligent, loyal, and love a good hike.

bichon on left poodle on right
A side by side of the Poodle and Bichon Frise breeds

Size Comparison

When comparing the Bichon Frise vs Poodle, one of the most notable differences is that the Poodle comes in three different sizes, whereas the Bichon Frise is a single size. 

Bichon Frises measure between 9.5 to 11.5 inches tall and weigh between 12 to 18 pounds. 

In contrast, Poodles have a significantly bigger size range according to the category they fall into. They are as follows:

  • Toy Poodle: Up to ten inches; six to 10 pounds
  • Miniature Poodle: 11-15 inches; 15-17 pounds
  • Standard Poodle: 15-22 inches; 45-70 pounds

So, a Toy Poodle and Bichon Frise can look identical in height and weight. But if you’re hoping to have a larger dog, choosing a Miniature or Standard Poodle is the best option.

bichon and gray poodle
Both Bichon Frise and Poodle coats will require regular at home grooming. They are manageable but need a little work.

Physical Characteristics

Bichon Frises have a curly, double-layer coat that grows long unless you keep it trimmed. It’s impossible to find a Bichon Frise that’s a color other than with a base of white. 

Aside from pure white, the AKC recognizes the following three Bichon Frise color combinations:

  • White and apricot
  • White and buff
  • White and cream

Poodles also have curly coats and long hair. However, unlike the Bichon Frise, they come in many other colors besides white.

Examples of Poodle colors include:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Cafe Au Lait
  • Gray
  • Silver Beige

And that’s only a sample. Unlike Bichon Frises, which don’t have markings, Poodles can have black points and white or black masks.

But overall, if the inexperienced person sees a Toy Poodle and Bichon Frise, it’s easy to confuse the two, given that both dogs have pointed muzzles and floppy ears. 

smiling poodle and bichon
Poodles have inquisitive and loving personalities. Bichons are also loving and develop close attachment

Personalities

Both Bichon Frises and Poodles make excellent family pets because they’re loving, loyal, and energetic. 

According to the AKC, Bichon Frises have a slightly lower chance of barking a lot compared to Poodles. But the reality is that these dog breeds share a remarkable number of personality traits. 

In both cases, breeders use the Bichon Frise and Poodle to create new varieties of designer breeds. That’s both thanks to their size and sweet personalities.  

chocolate poodle and fluffy bichon frise
Both the Bichon Frise and the Poodle can have beautifully soft coats

Grooming Requirements

Bichon Frises and Poodles are both low shedders and hypoallergenic. 

Although there’s no such thing as a dog that won’t ever produce allergies in humans, both of these breeds offer a significantly less chance of it happening.

As wonderful as it is to spend less time vacuuming your floors by owning a Bichon Frise or Poodle, the reality is that you’ll need to invest more time and money caring for these dogs’ coats compared to many other breeds.

Ideally, you should brush your pooch every day. On top of that, you’ll need to bring them to the groomer or set up a workstation in your home to give them a trim.

The frequency you bring your dog to the groomer can vary depending on the dog. But generally speaking, Bichon Firzes should see a groomer about once every four weeks, and Poodles will need grooming every six weeks.

So, before welcoming either of these dog breeds into your home, it’s vital to factor in grooming costs; they can add up, making these dogs too expensive to maintain for some people’s budgets.

cute small bichon frise
A small Bichon Frise puppy gently chews on a ground throw.

Exercise Needs

Of the two breeds, Poodles have slightly higher energy levels than Bichon Frises. But don’t let that fool you—Bichon Frises have lots of energy too.

The difference is that all Bichon Frises are small, so the space they need to do their exercising is less than Miniature and Standard Poodles. In both cases, you should ensure your pet receives at least 60 minutes of exercise per day—broken up into a minimum of two sessions.

Since Poodles are so intelligent, they appreciate it when their owners incorporate games, agility, and other challenges into their playtime. In contrast, Bichon Frises will be happy to chase balls and walk around the neighborhood.

Trainability

When comparing the Bichon Frise vs Poodle in terms of trainability, the Poodle is hands-down the winner for easiest to train.

Poodles are notorious for their high levels of intelligence, with research even showing that they’re the second smartest dog breed in North America, after the Border Collie.

So, if you’re training a Poodle and Bichon Firze side by side, you can expect the Poodle to learn commands faster than its cute fluffy counterpart.

Regardless, Bichon Frise and Poodles are both eager to please. So, as long as you make training fun for them by using treats and encouraging words, you can expect either dog to catch on before long.

at what age do poodles calm down
At what age do Poodles calm down?

Common Health Issues

As much as I wish dogs could live as long as their owners, the reality is that’s not the case. Instead, Bichon Frises have a lifespan of 14 to 15 years, whereas poodles have a lifespan of 10 to 18 years.

The reason for this vast difference is that the smaller the dog, the longer they usually live. So, Toy and Miniature Poodles have a statistically higher chance of living longer than Standard Poodles.

Some common health issues that the Bichon Frise faces include:

  • Allergies
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia

In contrast, common ailments among Poodles are:

  • Bloat 
  • Epilepsy
  • Addison’s disease
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Like Bichon Frises, Poodles can also suffer from canine hip dysplasia. 

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. But the good news is that you can prevent or catch many of these issues early by bringing your dog to annual vet check-ups.

how much do toy poodles cost
How much do Toy Poodles cost?

Cost Comparison

If you have your heart set on a Bichon Frise or Poodle and are trying to stay within a lower budget, I recommend purchasing a Bichon. These puppies start at around $800—still not cheap, I know.

But when you compare that to the $1,200 to $1,500 average starting price point of a Poodle puppy, the Bichon Frise looks like a discount

That said, either of these dogs can sell for significantly more money depending on their lineage, health, and the breeder’s reputation.

Which Dog Is Right for You?

The Bichon Frise and Poodle are both such loving pets that it can be hard to pick between them. But for many people, the dog’s size and price are determining factors.

Regardless of the breed you choose, get ready to fall in love at first sight. Poodles and Bichon Frises are absolute loves, and they’ll be eager to build many memories with you. 

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